(Adds comment, detail; updates prices) MELBOURNE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - London copper slipped on Thursday as buying dried up ahead of the Lunar New Year in mid-February, but a flurry of encouraging manufacturing reports out of Asia stemmed losses. "The physical market for copper cathodes (has) remained calm," European copper product maker Aurubis said in a report. "In China, demand was restrained ahead of the Lunar New Year festivities there in mid-February and the European market also showed only limited buying activity."
* COPPER: London Metal Exchange copper had slipped 0.6 percent to $7,078.50 a tonne by 0723 GMT, eroding 1-percent gains from the previous session. Shanghai Futures Exchange copper closed 0.2-percent lower at 52,980 yuan ($8,403) a tonne.
* CHINA DEMAND: China's manufacturing sector sustained growth at multi-month highs in January, a private business survey showed on Thursday, as factories continued to raise output to meet new orders, suggesting resilience in the world's second-largest economy.
* ASIA DEMAND: Asia's factories got off to a strong start in 2018, with manufacturing activity in many countries gaining momentum and hitting multi-year highs as global demand for hi-tech products remained strong.
* NICKEL: London nickel, zinc and aluminum fell by around 0.7 percent as traders trim positions ahead of the Lunar New Year.
* MIXED: "It's been a mixed morning on base metals with zinc, aluminum and nickel drifting lower on a lack of Asian buying rather than any meaningful offer," broker Marex Spectron said in a report.
* COPPER SUPPLY: Chile produced slightly less copper in 2017 than it did the year before, the government said on Wednesday, as output was dogged by a prolonged strike at BHP's Escondida copper mine, the world's largest, early in the year.
* TIN: LME tin halted a recent rise after Indonesia's PT Timah said it was aiming for an 18-percent increase in output this year to around 36,700 tonnes, with prices of the metal expected to be between $20,000 and $22,000 per tonne.
* LEAD: LME lead rallied 0.7 percent amid a crunch on nearby metal supply. LME stocks have slumped by around 7 percent since early January to below 135,000 tonnes, a three-year low.<0#LME-WHL> <MPBSTX-TOTAL>
* COMING UP: U.S. ISM manufacturing PMI Jan, U.S. construction spending Dec at 1500 GMT PRICES
BASE METALS PRICES 0717 GMT Three month LME copper 7080 Most active ShFE copper 52970 Three month LME aluminum 2207 Most active ShFE aluminum 14335 Three month LME zinc 3512 Most active ShFE zinc 26670 Three month LME lead 2624 Most active ShFE lead 19565 Three month LME nickel 13455 Most active ShFE nickel 102080 Three month LME tin 21670 Most active ShFE tin 149270
BASE METALS ARBITRAGE
LME/SHFE COPPER LMESHFCUc3 1012.03 LME/SHFE ALUMINIUM LMESHFALc3 -1807.71 LME/SHFE ZINC LMESHFZNc3 457.8 LME/SHFE LEAD LMESHFPBc3 -358.7 LME/SHFE NICKEL LMESHFNIc3 2046.31
($1 = 6.3048 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford and Richard Pullin)